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GLE 550e First tank of Gas - Review

 
Old 12-12-2016, 12:29 PM
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GLE 550e, BMW Z3
GLE 550e First tank of Gas - Review

I was planning on doing a "1 Week" review, but couldn't find the time, so instead I am doing a "First Tank of Gas - Review". Dealer filled the car at delivery, which was a nice touch. I have only bought two other new cars, (I usually buy used)and neither dealer (Honda and BMW) did that. So off to a good start.

Picked up the car the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so November 26. Just filled it up Saturday, December 10. I do charge the car whenever I am home. Total miles at my first fill up: 503.9.

Per the car's computer - 28.3. mpg. My personal calculation was closer to 27.5. Of those 503 miles, I think it said 189 were electric-powered. Well actually it says it the inverse way - it says the engine was off for 189 miles. This puts the actual gas-powered efficiency at 17 mpg. Not very good, considering I try to use gas mostly on the highway. The manual is pretty clear that there is a break-in period, and I am hoping that the gas-only MPG will increase as the engine use goes up and everything mates. I will add that I was also held back by only having a level one charger. It is always my goal to arrive home at or near 0 miles of electric left. That is to maximize the electric usage, and decrease gas usage. However, because level 1 charging is so slow, if I need to go back out and run an errand, the electric is usually insufficient to reach the destination and return. A perfect example is last night. Arrived home at about 1 p.m. at 0 miles left, and I plugged in. Wanted to run an errand around 5:30 p.m. and only had about 9 miles of electric available. Which is not really 9 miles, but I will get to that. So out to the shopping center and back, and ultimately used gas on a trip that otherwise was within electric range. My level 2 charger (ClipperCreek) is supposed to arrive today (was supposed to arrive last Friday but UPS lost track of it. It showed up late Saturday night). This means I will be able to get a full charge in about 2.5 hours, so for example, last night's trip would have been fully electric. It also means I can use the app to control when the car charges, and move charging to late at night. Currently, It takes 7-8 hours, so I just plug it in immediately when I get home and start charging.

Also I would note that the gas engine seems very noisy. Not sure if it just needs to break in, or if I need to have it looked at. Makes a clackety sound. Almost like valve tap. I am going to give it until the 1K break in period is over and see if it persists.

So moving on to electric range, the car will tell you that the range when full is 19 miles. Absolutely not true. I knew that going in however. I guess on a test track where you never stop, and can maintain a steady speed you could get close to that. In real life I seem to be able to get 9-13 miles on a full charge. Still more than enough to get me to work and back, which is about 6 miles round-trip. There is a built in eco-routing setting in the nav, which supposedly is more efficient, but you also have to put the engine in "eco mode" which is one of the available settings under the individual setting for ride control (along with sport, comfort, slippery, etc. ). But I always forget to turn the dial, and I don't always use the nav, especially if I know where I am going. And as many of you know, the setting defaults to comfort when you turn the car on, and I just plain forget to move it most days. This feature is supposed to route you according to the most efficient use of electric, including taking elevation into account. You also have to leave it in hybrid mode. I prefer to set it to e-mode to guarantee only electric is used.

REVIEW:

I love this car! As I mentioned, I usually buy used cars, as they are a better value, but late models, usually only two years old or so. It is a real pleasure to have a new car. And I love this car. The ride is very comfortable. I am coming from a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and the 550e kicks it's butt in every way except cargo space. I live in an urban area, with really bad roads in some places, as well as some cobblestone streets. It really is a pleasure to drive. here are some comments on features:

Seats: I love the color and the comfort. I did get the multi-contour seats, and my wife turns on the massage every time she gets in. And she loves the heated seats. I find they warm up very quickly, and I actually turn it off after two minutes or so. I got the ventilated seats, but have not had a chance to really use them yet. The leather is not super soft, but that really is the only thing I would change.

Distance Pilot/Steering Pilot: Wow, I really like this feature. The steering pilot needs a little work as it wanders a bit within the lane, but it really can handle regular highway curves, and I can just keep my hand on the wheel for minor corrections. I have not tried it in stop and go traffic. I am pretty sure you need to be going at least 20 mph to turn it on. Not 100% sure.

Driving dynamics: I really like how it handles so far. The run-flats (extended mobility) don't seem to be impacting the ride comfort, at least for me. Definitely superior ride comfort over the Highlander Hybrid. Not quite as good as my Audi A8. About the same as my Infinity M50x. I don't run it in sport, because you cannot run electric mode in Sport, although when I use the custom settings, I have the engine in eco, and the handling in sport.

Command: I am not crazy about the Command interface, and the touchpad is pretty impossible for me to use effectively, although I was able to set the favorite shortcut for my wife to turn on the massaging seat, and move it to be in the second position. Other than that, it is challenging to use, especially when driving.

Voice command: Partially great, partially terrible. I have had a lot of trouble getting the voice command to work for complete addresses. It just does not seem to understand me most of the time. However, I love the "free POI name search" which allows you to just say the name i.e. Costco, Safeway, Target, and you get a list of locations you can choose from. The downside is if you name a chain, you get every location within a large radius, and making sure you choose the right one is very challenging. Perhaps I just have not mastered it yet.

Navigation: Just ok. Traffic is included for 5 years, so that is nice. Speed limit shows up on screen (if you turn it on) which is also nice. The actual directions are pretty good, with plenty (almost too much) advance notice of turns. Also does the thing where it says "Turn right.....in 500 feet". The delay can make you take a wrong turn, and it reminds me of that commercial where the nav says turn right, and the guy crashes into a building. Then the nav says "in 100 feet".

Headlights: I live in a pretty well lit urban area, so I have not had a real chance to see how well they work in a really dark environment, but I will report back if I think they are less stellar than the other reviews indicate. Also, as far as I can tell, there is no "off" position. I leave it in automatic, but when I park sometimes I want to shut all the lights off right away and there does not seem to be a way to do it. Again, this may just be a learning curve issue.

Controls: There are several controls who's placement is inexplicable or just bad. The heated steering wheel on/off switch is on the end of the steering wheel movement lever. This is at the base of the steering wheel, and is a pain to reach while driving. You also cannot see the little red light on the end to see if it is on or off due to placement. My wife's Volvo has this switch right on the center console. I really don't understand this placement. Also, the rear wiper placement is a tiny switch on the wiper/turn signal stalk. Very hard to access. And also way too easy to hit the rear washer fluid spray setting which I have done a couple of times now by accident. The main wiper off/auto/on/ switch is on the end of the stalk. Not too bad if you keep in in auto (rain sensing). Another minor annoyance is there is no volume indicator when you change the setting. I guess I am just used to some visual feedback when I raise or lower the volume of the radio, nav, etc.

There are also a couple of buttons I have not had a chance to play with yet, including the button that runs the heat or air conditioning when the car is off. I have also set the car to turn on the heat when I remotely unlock the doors. It also seems to go on when I just open the door or the rear hatch. I have not yeat tried to precondition the car from the app.

The electric GLE app is glitchy. It will often fail to update the stats, and more recently has been telling me the connection is not secure and making me jump through some hoops to access it. I think this is a Mercedes issue and they need to update their web certificates.

Also there are a couple of rattles and squeaks coming from the back if the pavement is less that smooth (which near my house means it rattles/squeaks a lot). Hard to pinpoint where it is coming from when I am driving. My wife says they are in the back hatch area, but at least one sounds like perhaps a grab handle or seat belt issue. Pretty annoying for a brand new car. I have not yet taken it to the dealer as they are minor, but annoying!

I am not at all used to the shift lever being on the steering column. When I first got the car I accidentally put it in neutral a couple of times as I was trying to do other functions (old habits from the Toyota.) I am getting used to it, but I also find that despite the dealer telling me I don't need to hit the parking brake, if I don't the car tends to roll after I shut it off (because I am not hitting "P" either) which is annoying, but is operator error so I am working on that.

The 360 surround camera is great, and really lets me put the car in the center of a parking space, or get close to the curb without hitting it, or even to maneuver in tight areas. However, the left mirror does not have auto tilt-down as an option, only the right mirror. This would be helpful to when parking with a curb to the left.

I would also add that there are several operating modes: Hybrid, E-Mode, E-Save and Charging. There is a huge gas penalty when charging, I am talking even at highway speeds getting less than 15 mpg per the consumption readout. E-mode works great. Unlike my Highlander Hybrid, you can travel in electric mode regardless of engine temp. E-Save does just that, save the electric at the level at which you turn it to e-save. However, you still get some electric usage, if the level goes up, it will let you use electric until it drops to the previously set level. So going down a big hill, if you regen some electric, you can use it without tapping the reserve you set. Hybrid works like you would think, but will deplete the electric battery. The car always starts from off in Hybrid. I forget to change it sometimes, and it will run on all electric if you drive fairly gently, at least until you demand more power.

So while it may seem that I have a lot of criticisms, they are really mostly minor. I really love the car. The tech is fantastic, and the ride is very comfortable. Plus, I really like that on an average day, I use no gas to and from work.

Last edited by DarrenK; 12-12-2016 at 04:03 PM.
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350MH83 (12-13-2016)
Old 12-12-2016, 05:02 PM
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GLE 550e, BMW Z3
Android Auto

I forgot to post about Android Auto, so I thought I would add a bit here about it. It is a very cool feature, which even lets you dictated text message or ask for the score of a game, or who the next opponent is, and when the game is. Some things work better than others, and voice to text is not perfect, but still cool. Will read text messages out loud. The built in MB system will also read texts, but is more cumbersome to use, and I'm not sure about dictating text to it. Obviously you get Google Maps for the nav, and you also get access to any music on your phone (which could be accessed by Bluetooth anyway).

On the downside, you lose access to the Command System. It's neat to use the first few times, but once you show off voice to texts and the score of the game to all your friends, the glamour wears off...lol
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Old 12-13-2016, 11:12 AM
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2016 GLE 350d
Great review, thanks! I had a 2012 ML550 and thought about waiting for this new 550e but ended up in a 350d which give great fuel economy and was far cheaper here in Canada than the 550. Interesting feedback on lots of things. You will get used to the wheel heat switch. I have had that now on three ML's/GLE in a row and its second nature to reach it. I usually shut it off after 2-5 minutes anyway. The headlights are phenomenal by the way. Best I have ever had. I agree the passenger side mirror should tilt and this is my first Mercedes where it does not. The 360 camera is excellent but nothing beats that mirror for seeing a curb or painted line when you are reversing into a parking spot. And I ALWAYS reverse into my parking spots including my garage lol.


Enjoy it and report back on your fuel economy as you break her it.
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Old 12-13-2016, 11:47 AM
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GLE 550e, BMW Z3
Originally Posted by 2012MLBlue View Post
Great review, thanks! I had a 2012 ML550 and thought about waiting for this new 550e but ended up in a 350d which give great fuel economy and was far cheaper here in Canada than the 550. Interesting feedback on lots of things. You will get used to the wheel heat switch. I have had that now on three ML's/GLE in a row and its second nature to reach it. I usually shut it off after 2-5 minutes anyway. The headlights are phenomenal by the way. Best I have ever had. I agree the passenger side mirror should tilt and this is my first Mercedes where it does not. The 360 camera is excellent but nothing beats that mirror for seeing a curb or painted line when you are reversing into a parking spot. And I ALWAYS reverse into my parking spots including my garage lol.


Enjoy it and report back on your fuel economy as you break her it.
The passenger mirror does tilt. It is the driver's side I would like to tilt and it does not.
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